Danton is a 1200-year old vampire, blinded by the Medieval Church, who makes his life as a paranormal romance novelist. He writes about a vampire detective and “pretends” to his fans to be a vampire himself. But book sales are down because he has been without love for over 30 years and just doesn’t have that spark of romance left in him. Until he meets Kevin, a disbelieving young man, desperate for a job, who is brought in by Danton’s agent to try to lighten up his life and heat up his prose.
Interview with the Kevin
Author: Mark Lesney
Release Date: October 16, 2017
Format: ePub, Mobi, PDF
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Word Count: 18500
Sex Content: Explicit
Interview with the Kevin
Mark Lesney © 2017
All Rights Reserved
Reclusive gentleman seeks male companion for assistance with the tasks of daily living. Must have a pleasant reading voice and no hang-ups regarding homosexuality or dealing with the blind. Excellent pay and benefits for the right individual. Must be willing to live in and follow a flexible hourly schedule including frequent night work.
It was the best I could do. I couldn’t very well have advertised the truth in the Washington Blade.
Sightless vampire seeks a willing Renfield for possible blood donations, unwavering service, as well as tips on modern MM romance. Sex optional, but desirable with the appropriate candidate.
Of course, the last interview of the week for the position just happened to be scheduled for Halloween—a holiday that was not only an embarrassment to my species, but worse, the eight-hundredth anniversary of the night when the minions of Simon de Montfort burned my eyes from their sockets. Not a time for celebration.
Diana, my agent, had screened out the worst of those who showed up before I even met them. Diana was fully privy to all my secrets, her long-since retired mother having been my previous agent. She weeded out the absolute dreck and the obvious hustlers.
And she scanned their resumes—it was too much to expect that they be delivered to me in Braille. She could have printed them out for me using my special printer, of course, but I hated dealing with those kinds of details. And since this was all her idea, I figured it was only right that she do all the work.
Beyond that, though, there was the inevitable moment when I had to deal with them myself. The majority of the applications were appalling. And quite sad, given the excessive number of them and how few even remotely fit the bill.
My address in the high-rent district in Georgetown had also gone a long way to attracting quite a lot of riffraff and opportunists. Much less hapless university students.
I was becoming quite at a loss and wondering if I would have to settle on a closely watched mind-slave for a decade or two—I jest, really—until young Kevin Daily sauntered into my library office and into my life.
Of course, that was after an entire morning of Diana lecturing me to be less picky.
“You’ve just got to move into the modern era. You haven’t been to a gay bar in almost a generation,” she complained. She was bustling about my office like a mad chihuahua, putting up hand-crafted Halloween decorations even here, after having filled the stairwell’s staid dark-oak panels with cardboard cutouts of witches and ghosts and jack-o’-lantern monstrosities.
My protests were in vain. Her daughter’s class had embraced her poor blind “uncle’s” case with the earnestness of any gaggle of eight-year-olds given a project in art class. Bethany—I refused to call my surrogate goddaughter Bettie, as she now wanted to be called—had told her teacher and all her friends about my “dark and lonely” mansion and how it simply must be brightened up for Halloween. The fact that I was blind and presumptively would not be able to see them seemed to matter not a whit to their enthusiasm.
“It was a bad time. The bars were full of semi-closet cases, mostly in government service to a Republican administration. Most nights they smelled of their despair,” I complained. “And AIDS.”
Being “out” was the exception then, not the rule, even more than a decade after Stonewall. After the mideighties, everything by then was AIDS. It’s not a pleasant memory, as much as I loved disco. Everywhere was the taste of death. The bitter taste of Eddie. That era saw the last time I could bring myself to feed directly off a human male.
“Why do you expect me to start that all up again? I don’t need to do any research. My career is fine,” I told her. “Anyway. I’ve sworn off sexual adventure. Much less that insanity called love. You need to stop switching the blood bags and trying to get me to feed off men again. The taste makes me…uncomfortable. Brings back memories. And since I’m not going to do anything about it, I wish you would stop!
“In any event, feeding off female blood has worked perfectly fine. The clinic provides more than what I need. The new bags don’t make it taste so much of plastic. And I never saw this obsessive need the rest of my kind have, especially those portrayed in books, for ‘playing with my food.’”
“But women are lovely to play with!” Diana smiled.
Heat rose up my neck to turn my blue-white face to scarlet. I hadn’t fed for a while. So, there wasn’t enough blood to go around, and I felt a bit light-headed as well as exceedingly uncomfortable. Lesbians somehow always made me feel a prude.
“They’re sustaining,” I said to cover up my embarrassment. “Wholesome. And clean. I’ll grant you that. You’re clean. I like my meals well-scrubbed. You’re not so bad.”
Meaning womankind, not her personally. I never fed off my agents. So, I masked my continuing discomfort by asking about her daughter.
“She’s still pestering Maddie about her Halloween costume, and why, despite having two mums, she got stuck with neither one knowing how to sew a costume worth shit.” She shook her head. “What kind of crap school insists that Halloween costumes all be handmade? But that’s beside the point. Don’t distract me. We were talking about how you can nurse a hurt like this for so many years.”
“I’m immortal. It’s something to do,” I said.
I felt the vibration of it in the room, as well as heard Diana’s exaggerated sigh. “In a way, that’s what I have to talk to you about,” she said.
“You’re not trying to fix me up again with the blood of another damned ‘twink’ as you called it! Crystal meth and marijuana! Gag!”
“You know this isn’t going to work. At least that otter or was it bear creature’s blood you brought over tasted fresh and pure. But that pint they drained for me from that ‘muscle jock’ was bitter. The aftertaste of steroids and EPO stayed with me for days. Like saccharin in my tea!”
What I didn’t tell her was that, in both cases, the simple taste of the blood from a human male, even drunk through a tube from a plastic donation bag, gave me a raging hard-on. Something I hadn’t otherwise felt, except in dreams, for over thirty years. I was suspicious that she knew the effect it would have on me, and that’s why she insisted I try drinking blood from men again. For research purposes…she said. Just to see if it would help inspire me.
Well, I didn’t want to be inspired that way anymore. I’d had enough.
“Well, at least the blood was all HIV negative. You didn’t have to taste a cocktail or Truvada in their blood.”
She stood back startled as I leaped from my chair before I even realized it. Years of practice, the warmth of her perfume, the double mocha latte on her breath made her perfectly “visible” to my sense of smell and taste as I placed my face exactly two inches from her own. And grinned with fangs.
“I bless the cocktails, for their sakes,” I said in a hollow voice, almost quivering with anger. “You will not speak against them.” I was fully my intimidating best.
She only sighed again. “I really am sorry, Dan. I can’t imagine how horrible it was for you. I don’t like to think about what you and mother have told me about that time.”
So much for trying the big bad vampire routine on her… I backed away from the discourtesy of my looming over her and bumped backward into my desk. I wasn’t paying attention to anything but her now and my memories.
“Stick to Danton,” I said, “even when we’re alone. If I’m going to be the grand vampire romance novelist, then I have to keep up the part.” Besides, I hated being called “Dan.” It was too close to Danny…Danny Boy. That’s what Eddie had always called me. After that stupid song.
“All right, Danton. But really, no one knows, much less believes, you’re a real vampire. Except maybe that small cadre of mad fans. The rest all think it’s just shtick for the book conventions and the signings.”
“It’s served me well,” I said, glad that most people didn’t really believe I had served in the court of Charlemagne. Who was an asshole, by the way, in case you were wondering. That was the only thing that the musical Pippin got right.
“My persona is a perfect aspect of my craft,” I insisted. “Your mother and I honed it to perfection.” And being a vampire novelist had allowed me, for the first time in several centuries, to revert to my real name. And go out in daylight. Or rather public. I did dislike the daylight.
Skin rashes. Easy sunburn. Easily dehydrated and overheated. But none of that bursting into flames. Though that one weekend at a tropical beach vacation in Fort Lauderdale that Eddie had insisted upon made me wish I could catch fire and just get it over with. Ah. The itching… You’d think it would heal almost instantly like everything else…but…no.
“Your vampire persona may have served you well before, but not so much anymore. We made a mistake.”
“Your books aren’t selling. At least not the new ones. I…I could only get a straight to eBook deal with this last one. A print run only if it sells enough to make it worth the gamble…”
“What!” My fury echoed through the house and the sixteenth-century porcelain figurines on my mantelpiece rattled with the volume. I might not need to breathe, except to talk, but I did have a supernatural set of lungs and larynx.
“It was a mistake—thinking we’d have you get all young again and let it leak that the original Danton had retired and that you were now his son taking over the reins. Nobody likes an old vampire, do they?”